Is Your Resume a Used Car Salesman?

Don’t we all dread buying a car? The hype, the evasions, the glib sales pitch … it all just reeks of desperation.

Hiring a new employee can often feel the same way. One resume after another, all filled with hype and smooth sales talk, all with the faint whiff of desperation.

By glib sales talk, I mean cliched ‘resume speak.’ The stuff you see on everybody else’s resume. Like this …

Accomplished 10-year veteran with extensive cross-functional and matrix experience in process re-engineering and systems design. Exceptional leadership abilities and strong project management skills.

Are you asleep yet?

And by hype, I mean things like this …

Dynamic senior leader with 20 years of driving seven-figure revenue growth through ground-breaking innovation and world-class execution. Unfailingly respected by peers, employees and clients. Adored by his wife. Revered by his friends! Worshiped by his children!

OK, I went a little bit overboard at the end, but you get the drift.

The thing is, the people who write resumes like this think they’re doing the right thing. They saw examples like this in books or on websites and they’ve been told over and over again that they have to sell themselves.

That’s true. You do have to sell yourself. But you can’t do that if you sound like everyone else. And you can’t do it if you sound incredibly desperate for attention and love! 

So What Should You Do?

Kevin Womack had an excellent post the other day on

With all of the advice that is out there for writing resumes, I can tell you that the single most important thing to remember and probably the only thing that you need to remember if you are an IT Job Seeker or IT Staffing Professional is to “WRITE THE RESUME TO REFLECT THE POSITION YOUR ARE TRYING TO OBTAIN”. That’s it….period.

Kevin’s point was that you should always edit your resume to suit each posting, and I agree with that, but I think he also touches on a larger issue … headhunters don’t want fluffy claims and over-hyped language. They want to know ‘how exactly will you solve my client’s problems?’ (Internal HR folk and hiring managers have the same question btw only in their case it’s phrased ‘how will you solve my company’s problems?’)

The best way to show what you will do in the future is to show what you have done in the past. So when you write your resume, just focus on presenting an authentic and compelling case for yourself through facts and real-life examples.

Facts Not Fluff!

Ask yourself: What do potential employers care about most? Then choose facts and results that address those concerns and lead your resume with those.

A CFO might start with a quick summary of his most impressive company turnaround.  A sales rep might start off with the fact that he’s been a President’s Club member for 9 years out of the last 10 (it’s OK to include the one year you missed – no one is perfect and pretending you are is classic used car salesman).  A marketer might lead off with the most successful brands he’s worked on.

All of these are designed to impress, but they’re based on fact, not smooth talk and even more importantly, they’re addressed directly at what matters most to the hiring authority.

Check out this example of a strong, fact-based, employer-targeted, resume introduction and ask yourself what you can do to inject more employer-focused facts into your own resume.

Need help writing your resume? Check out our free resume writing course. Over 2 weeks, you’ll learn how to construct a strong, fact-based resume that sells you effectively without over-hyping your skills.

[Photo by jbcurio]

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top